UK: Launch of vaccine for Schmallenberg virus welcomed by sheep farmers

Lamb born dead with arthrogryposis (persistent flexion of the joints) – arthrogryposis is one of the

Lamb born dead with arthrogryposis (persistent flexion of the joints) arthrogryposis is one of the congenital abnormalities associated with SBV infection (Schmallenberg Virus) - Credit: Archant

Sheep farmers’ leaders say they are delighted a vaccine for Schmallenberg, a virus which can cause deformity in new-born lambs and calves, will be available this summer.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) is delighted the Veterinary Medicine Directorate (VMD) has granted a licence for MSD Animal Health’s Schmallenberg vaccine, giving sheep farmers the option to vaccinate their stock this summer, ahead of the high-risk mating season.

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, said: “NSA called for a vaccine some time ago and we are absolutely delighted both MSD Animal Health and VMD acted as quickly as possible in the development and licensing processes, while also ensuring rigorous safety checks.

“We are particularly pleased the vaccine licence indicates sheep need just one jab, as this avoids the expense, stress and inconvenience of having to gather and inject sheep twice. The work done by both parties to provide and corroborate evidence for this is hugely appreciated by the sheep sector, along with the commitment to move rapidly in getting this product to market.

“The decision about whether to vaccinate or not will be down to each individual farmer, their business model, infection history, lambing pattern and location. NSA urges farmers to talk to their vet in advance of tupping, so that if vaccination is seen as the best route, there is enough time to implement a programme and fully protect stock.

“NSA is also committed to providing independent information to ensure producers know the key points to consider when deciding what to do in their situation. We are looking to provide this support to the sheep sector as soon as we can.”